It is exciting to take the big step and decide to learn how to start a solar business. But you will discover it isn’t as easy as other people will tell you. The popularity of solar energy has increased over the past few decades, so it indeed is a profitable business to consider.
Unless you don’t really have much of a budget. Every investor should learn how to start a business that installs solar panels if they have the funds or more than capital, the time, and patience for it.
The US Federal Government has already reduced taxation on imported panels by 10%-30% to encourage green power, making it easier for you and reducing the cost to this expensive industry.
A solar installation business can be started right away, and you can reap the benefits before the market becomes saturated. Just keep in mind that we are calling it expensive because you may not need to have the capital right away, but you will need money to invest.
If you need more reasons not to throw this option, we want you to know that solar installers are also among America’s most rapidly growing professions.
This exciting trade will see a 52 percent growth rate between 2019 and 2029 and a median annual income of $44.890. It offers contractors a great opportunity to get started in this lucrative sector.
However, how do you start? Pretty much like every other business, but with some twists, you need to take note of.
How to Get Started in the Industry
Expertise is more than just knowing your product. This requires you to be aware of all available rebates and incentives.
It is a key differentiator for companies who want to stand out from the rest. Companies that research their customers to save time and money will get the contracts.
No matter if you are a salesperson, installer, or both, it is imperative that you become proficient at navigating financial incentives and working with utilities.
It is best to start a solar business in a small, under-saturated market. Check with your local SEIA chapters or chambers of commerce to find out what other solar professionals are doing.
You can also conduct internet searches to see what the results are. Maybe you could specialize in aesthetically-pleasing solar and landscape design. Maybe your market could benefit from a financing and regulation ninja.
Even if traditional solar businesses saturate the market, you’ll likely find a niche that you are uniquely qualified to fill.
Our point is: you need to learn as much as you can about the industry and make sure you get specialized in a niche.
This is why we need you to remember these options and how you can start your solar business and in what:
- Solar sales.
You don’t need to be a roofer or installer to start a solar company. There are many businesses that specialize in sales.
These companies handle all aspects of selling solar systems, including obtaining leads, qualifying them, and conducting in-home or virtual consultations to get the customer to sign. These companies then work with contractors to complete the installation process.
- Solar installers.
The most saturated market for solar installers is usually the one that’s in the middle of it all. You might start by learning the basics of roofing if you are looking to start your own solar installation business.
Solar installation is a great way to expand your roofing business.
It is becoming increasingly common for the roofing and solar industries to merge. Roofs and solar panels have a similar lifespan of approximately 25 years.
Skilled roofers realize that they can install both a roof and a solar system simultaneously. There is a lot of overlap in the roles of solar installers and roofing contractors.
- Learn about what is a PV System.
Let’s first take a look at the workings of a PV system before we go any further, and yes, we decided it would be a good decision to include it in this section as you get the chance. This will give you a better understanding of how to make money from building one.
The photovoltaic effect is a process that converts light particles (photons) into electricity. Photons are able to knock electrons into a material when they hit a photovoltaic (PV). These excited electrons produce an electric current as they flow.
Three steps are required to understand how solar panels work at a high level:
- The solar cells in solar panels absorb sunlight, which causes electricity to flow.
- An inverter converts AC electricity to.
- This electricity is used for current energy needs in the customer’s home. Any excess electricity that the customer does not use is exported to a grid.
Photovoltaic works at the cell level. Solar panels can be made up of multiple cells. PV systems consist of a series of wired together panels (called ” Stringing”) to supply the appropriate voltage to an inverter.
Once a PV system has been installed, nothing can stop a customer from getting free, green energy.
If you focus on this area of expertise or decide to work with it, you can definitely make lots of money.
Be Specific About Your Target Market
Here is when we start with the actual steps, and we want to set one straight right away: Understanding your target market is essential when starting any type of business.
You need to look at the problems that exist in your chosen market and find solutions. You can choose the area where your business will be located. You can also choose to offer commercial or home installations.
However, knowing your target market can be hard as you need to consider thousands of options, if not millions. So, for it, answer the following questions to determine the market potential for your startup in solar energy:
- Who are your target customers? Like, the people who are willing to pay for this in a neighborhood.
- What is the demographic profile of the area where you work?
- Which are your biggest competitors?
- What is your target’s value system? Is your target open to solar energy?
Create the Brand Name
The brand name is psychologically and creatively linked to the business. This is how people will remember you and how you can put yourself in front of others.
Now, get up and create a company name that is relevant to your brand. We recommend that you don’t use your name unless you are well-known enough to attract customers. You will be able to stand out from the rest of your competitors by creating a clear brand strategy.
Your brand for solar energy should be easy to spell and pronounce, have the potential to expand, be synonymous with your niche and objectives, catchy and sticky.
We can also add:
- Your potential customers will be emotionally connected to you.
- It means something good.
Create Your Solar Panel Business Plan
The business plan is the most important document for entrepreneurs and something you should never skip as it gives you a great idea of how to move around and avoid as many mistakes as possible.
It is the foundation of your startup and contains all the details necessary to reach all long- and short-term goals. It provides a roadmap for how you will achieve each of them.
A well-organized business plan is a great way to attract investors. You’ll also use it as a guideline to help you make smart strategic business decisions when running your startup.
In writing the business plan for solar installations:
- Keep it brief and simple.
- Write in the language of your target audience.
- You should thoroughly test your business plan.
- Set clear goals and objectives.
- How to manage your new startup solar energy company.
Get the Paperwork Prepared
You should strive to conduct your business professionally and in compliance with the law. Register your business and get a permit for it.
In some jurisdictions, you may need an electrical contractor’s or general building contractor license. How you register your startup solar will depend on the laws in your state and how your business structure is structured.
Additional tips for registering your solar business:
- Find out if your business must be registered in your area.
- For your solar company, get an attorney to draft the memoranda.
- Get a tax ID for your business.
- Register your brand name and get it patent.
Some states do not require solar licensing. If you plan to work outside your home state, licenses will be required for every single one of them whatsoever. You will often need an electrician or plumbing license in order to work in states that require licenses as well, and it will be safer to just apply for them when you plan to expand your business.
Even though you don’t require a license to operate in your locality, a solar certification can be a good idea to prove how valuable you are.
Solar certifications can be a great way to increase customer confidence and put you ahead of other uncertified businesses.
Certified solar professionals earn an average of $11.000 more each year as well, so you want this to be part of your business option. You may be able to work in multiple states or municipalities by becoming certified, which can increase your competitiveness.
The voluntary certifications by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners are national standards for PV professionals. They certify that they have the experience, skills, and competence to stand out from others.
Set Up Your Solar Business
Now you’re ready to jump. You have identified your niche and obtained the necessary licenses and certifications. Let’s dive into how to start a business that is solar-powered, starting with the legal stuff.
- Establish an LLC.
A limited liability company (also known as an LLC) is a legal entity established by state statute, and it is ten times better than a sole proprietor.
LLCs offer many benefits, including liability protection, flexibility, tax advantages, and tax advantages.
An LLC is a legal entity that allows you to choose a name and select members. The state may require you to get any permits or to license but also offers you the chance to separate your finances.
- Insurance for businesses.
It’s not enough to protect your personal assets from lawsuits. You will need insurance for your solar company.
You may need to pay out of pocket if you don’t have insurance, which could spell doom for your business.
It is crucial to have the right insurance coverage to mitigate risks and liabilities. While every contracting company must comply with all insurance requirements, there are some specific considerations for the solar industry. Here is your checklist for solar business insurance:
- General liability insurance.
- Workers’ compensation.
- Auto liability insurance.
- Excess/umbrella liability insurance.
General liability insurance for contractors typically provides coverage of at least $500.000. Just make sure you keep track of all your property, inventory, and equipment so that you can get the best insurance.
Creating a Solar Team
Salespeople run most solar businesses, and no, you shouldn’t think about doing this alone either. No matter what niche you are in, there is a good chance that at least part of your paycheck goes to making phone calls and knocking on doors or just working with the panels alone.
You will need help, and you cannot be green with this expense. You want to ensure that you are going for the right person to add to the team.
Here are three things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a salesperson:
- Knowledge about your niche.
- Persistence and passion.
- Customers have questions and concerns about solar, and they are able to answer them.
It is crucial to instill a culture that values customer satisfaction among all employees, especially salespeople. They are the ones who will drive your business’s conversions and often represent your company. They should be well-dressed and provide excellent customer service.
Set Your Prices Right
If you set your prices right, you are over halfway done.
Solar products are becoming more popular, and companies are investing in them. Potential clients will be discouraged if you charge too high, but it isn’t a good option to charge too low either.
If your price is too low, they will think that you are offering low-quality services. A low price can lead to debt and eventually bankruptcy as well.
It is important to set a price that will attract customers and not eat into your profits. Find out what other companies are charging, and then calculate a price that considers all market parameters.
Pricing should take into account the cost of solar installation, the market price, and the value you offer. You’ll be able to compete in the market if you strike a balance.
It is best to provide a quote for each customer and then charge them according to their individual circumstances. The cost of a residential solar system could be between $2.000 to $3.000, while that for a commercial installation would run as high as $10.000.
Good ideas to set the price and remain competitive are:
- Let customers choose their preferred package.
- Different versions of a product are available.
- You can offer quotes to customize the solar system to meet your client’s needs.
- Let the price capture its value.
- Do not accept discounts that do not guarantee future premiums.
Get The Capital for Your New Solar Panel Business
Money is not a joke, especially when you’re starting a business.
To calculate the capital required to start it, use your business plan. Calculate the capital cost in terms of transport, labor, solar panels, and accessories.
How much does it cost to start a solar energy business? Depending on where you are located and how big your startup is, the total capital required to start a solar power business will be between $90.000 to over $300.000.
You can draw on your savings to start the business, but loans are also available. Many financial institutions and banks are open to your loan proposal.
After you have all your finances in order, you will be able to purchase all the equipment and paraphernalia that you need. Next, market the product to establish your business.
Some options available to finance your company include angel investors, private lenders, your own family, or your reliable bank.
Marketing Your New Solar Brand
You may be the only person who has heard about solar energy by the time your business is started. You can now share this information with your customers, or maybe you are close to being one of the few in the area.
Marketing is both abstract, and concrete will bring more opportunities. You must create a legend and attraction around your brand. Next, create strategies that make people trust and know your business name.
Social media marketing is becoming a powerful tool for marketing your brand even when this feels like an odd option for the industry, but we encourage you to give it a try.
On the other hand, you have options like
- Printing branded promotional materials.
- Search engine optimization for your site.
- Have a proven digital marketing strategy.
- Pay targeted ads on high-traffic platforms.
- Maintaining and developing a website.
- Sponsor events.
How to Guarantee Your Solar Business Success
It is easy to mess up compared to being successful in any business you think about.
In this industry and company, it is easy to make mistakes. It is even easier to over-engineer or under-engineer solar systems. A poorly designed or poorly planned solar system can spell doom for your business.
But if we move to another problem, how people help their customers or how they capture them.
Customers are often hesitant to pay their electricity bills, and you need to make sure you are in front of them when they are about to do so. A few days can make the difference between gaining a new customer or losing it.
Electric customers get a bill every month by mail. If they don’t receive a bill in the mail, they can most likely access it online through their utility.
This is a great opportunity to remind your customer about how efficiency improvements in the home can dramatically improve energy efficiency.
Finally, make sure everything is clear and done on your end.
You want to have your licenses and permit ready to show and work around your prices and services overall.
Just do your best to offer the best.
The Local Lead Generation Process for Your Solar Business
All right! So, everything is about building properties and generating leads. But how does the process actually take place? Are there other steps I need to know?
The steps I mention below are what students from our local lead generation program follow to generate leads for businesses like yourself. So I’ll help you see what we do. And how if you join our program, you can simply generate leads for your own business (unless you want to start a side hustle and build a laptop lifestyle business).
Essentially, our lead generation can be divided into four steps:
The first is prospecting. You need to take the time to do market research on a niche (industry) and determine how many phone-driven businesses are there.
Keep in mind that this is local research as you need to know how many companies need leads. For example, you may search for “plumbing services Youngstown OH.”
You will find dozens or even hundreds of businesses trying to get themselves in front of the customers by ranking on Map Listings, organic results, and even Ad.
The second step, building. When you find a niche (plumbing, tree services, a software company, real estate…), you will need to start building your digital properties. You don’t need to be an expert in HTML or coding. It can be easy with the right tools.
The third step is now taking time to rank your lead gen website. With the site done, you need to work on SEO strategies and start dominating those Google search results. If you’re new to SEO, it stands for Search Engine Optimization.
To keep it simple, it consists of the entire process of growing a company’s visibility on search engines like Google and generating organic traffic. And remember this, local lead generation is part of the strategies.
Moving on to step four, once you rank the site, you will start getting your ROI and profits. You only need to rent it out to a local business interested in the leads the site generates. You can offer a couple of free leads to their move on with the actual pay per lead.
To review steps 1-4 above, I described it to a normal student who is building a lead gen business to help local service providers generate more calls. But replace the student with you as the business owner. And replace sending the leads to a business to simply siphoning the leads to your personal business.
By the way, fun fact, about 20% of our students in our local lead gen program are actually business owners who went through the program. And they use the skillsets we teach to generate leads for their own business.
An Example of Lead Generation: Home Advisor
You must be thinking, “if lead generation sounds so good so far, how come I haven’t seen any company?” That’s the thing; there are many out there. You just don’t know they are dedicated to it.
HomeAdvisor is one of the best examples you can find on the Internet as it is a top lead generation company that has spent millions building its brand but also earned even more zeros for this same reason.
They started small as everyone else but invested in building their brand awareness to make people who are looking for home services go to their website and find what they need. They are over 75% of people’s first choice when they need those services.
If you don’t get HomeAdvisor that much or need a refresh, users need to submit their information to request a service and get a professional or expert who can provide it.
HomeAdvisor’s job is to share your information, which makes you a lead, with local companies so they can contact you and offer the service you’re requesting. For sharing this lead information, HomeAdvisor gets paid by the companies. This happens for every single lead they send to multiple businesses.
Business owners who don’t have marketing skills or don’t even know how to have any online presence will always rely on those pages to list their services. They will save time and effort, but companies like HomeAdvisor can make them spend lots of money as leads aren’t exclusive (one lead is sent to multiple companies after all).
Using Facebook Ads aka Paid Ad Platforms: Do They Generate Leads?
They DO generate leads. If not, no one would use them.
However, you need to remember two facts:
- Paid ads or platforms can be expensive.
- They don’t generate “natural” leads.
Whenever someone sees or clicks in one of those ads, over 80% of them did it by accident or are trying to close/report it.
Why? Because they aren’t looking for those services. At least not at the moment.
What those ads do instead is interrupt their time on the platforms. Users aren’t there to find companies or businesses unless they are searching for a specific company’s user, and for that, there’s a search bar. This is why it is hard to convert them to actual customers who will show interest in the companies’ services. Also, you’re limited by a budget.
When using lead generation, everything is organic. You aren’t forcing others to pay attention to your business but rather being there when they need you. This is why Google’s organic traffic will always beat paid ads, and the reason companies continue investing in it, which is a lot cheaper as well.
What Is Local SEO?
Don’t worry… I didn’t get it at first either. Following the short explanation, local SEO focuses on scaling businesses’ visibility on search engines. However, this is only for those who serve their communities face-to-face.
What does this mean?
Experts and professionals like painters, plumbers, and dentists (but not only them) offer their services to their local customers. Why? Because they can’t deliver them unless they are located in the same area of their customers.
To make sure those businesses get more leads, you need to rank them locally by claiming the business listing on Google to place them on Map Listings. Local SEO also involves online reviews, citation management, and how you manage your entire online presence in the local area.
If you are going to bet on lead gen, you need to adapt yourself to today’s world: The Internet.
Keep in mind that although traditional channels and methods like billboards, warm calls, and pamphlets still work, they aren’t part of your tools. Whenever someone needs a service, they go to Google and search for it.
“Dentist in Miami” or “plumbing services in Orlando,” etc. And you can keep coming up with services or professionals people need and look for. Thus, you need to make sure you’re using Google to get the companies in front of their clients.
Users will always click on the first search results (those near the top), and many of them will be either Ad links (people paid to place their websites there), Map Listing, and then you get websites. Almost all of them are your goal and where you should always aim to place yourself.
Can My Solar Business Utilize a Local Lead Generation Strategy?
If you want customers, you better know you need it. Following the previous explanation, lead gen is all about placing businesses in front of their customers, choosing them over their competitors.
Put it simply – it’s all about closing deals and having clients for those companies to make money. The main difference with the usual methods companies use for this is how lead generation approaches different channels to get them in the right place of the market to get customers.
Those channels are all focused on the Internet as most people are searching for products but also services across the net. The issue is that the Internet is way too broad, and businesses don’t know how to place themselves. They usually try, but they get one common result: losing money and time.
How Powerful Are Organic Solar Business Leads from Google?
For companies looking for customers, it’s everything. For you? Pretty much the same. When you build a business with digital properties, you get to make thousands of dollars a month.
This isn’t a “get started today and get rich tomorrow” thing, but it is HIGHLY scalable, and ROI + positive results are guaranteed. Learning a fairly decent and very needed set of skills to create your digital properties and start ranking them on Google is required.
I have invested in several online businesses over the years, and if there’s something uncertain, whether you will get your ROI or not, even more than the actual profit.
However, this business moved my earnings from five figures a year to a month in ONLY passive income while sitting comfortably at home.
On my laptop. Anywhere. Anytime.
You can look at one of the first sites I built back in 2016, and it continues making me over $1.000+ every month. The best part is that I don’t need to touch it or the rest I’ve built over the years, just like this digital property.
What Makes Lead Generation SO Alluring?
Here it goes: you can work from home.
The main issue with regular business opportunities is how much you need to invest in staff, equipment, or rent to have a place to sell your products or offer your services.
We all know the hassles of traditional businesses that involve regular expenses, which are extremely high. Can you afford it? I don’t think so, and even if you can, is it worth it? Now, it isn’t only about the money. You also need to put in a lot of work, and it isn’t only during the first couple of months or years. Usually, it is as long as you continue running it.
You can save yourself those headaches and bone-breaking tasks and expenses with lead gen since it is more about generating leads with digital channels—mainly websites.
Websites can be VERY cheap to build, and with many tools online, you get to do it in a couple of hours instead of days. Any virtual or digital business is scalable and won’t need constant maintenance.
So, let’s summarize this:
- You save money in regular expenses with traditional and most online businesses as what you need is yourself and digital properties (websites).
- You can bet on passive income.
- There’s no need to hire more people to get started.
- You can generate leads in multiple industries, which allows you to work on any niche you want.
How Can I Get Started in the Local Lead Generation Program?
Anyone can start and learn. That’s the beauty of this business model. I knew nothing about SEO, Map Listing, and everything I’ve mentioned so far. It is all about learning the skills, gaining experience, and deciding to take the step.
Remember that this business model will never get old as business owners are always looking for leads. They need to do business and scale their companies. Why not do the same while helping others and still making money?
You can start with this local lead generation course highly recommended for anyone wanting to grow in the business. It is a close training that will take you through each step and make sure you are able to get your ROI, profits and take control of your life.
You will be added to an incredible lead generation family ready to help you 24/7 when asking questions on the group. Anyone is welcome who’s willing to put in the work. Click here to watch the lead gen webinar.